Something Shady in the City

Craftsman Robert Fine of S.F.’s Meteor Lights turns out lampshades oozing with ‘retro cool’

They come shaped like kidneys or tambourines, as flamboyant ‘reverse atomic two-tier’ shades, or subdued ‘shallow drum.’ But whatever the model, lampshades from Meteor Lights of San Francisco are totally retro yet absolutely 21st century.

Owner Robert Fine caters to homeowners with vintage lamps that need new shades, and does custom installations, he says, in “five-star restaurants and dive bars, coffee houses and rock clubs, new architectural showcase homes and renovated rockabilly pads.”

Fine crafts each of the mid-century modern reproductions, and modern variants thereof, by hand, with only a single assistant.

A recent order went to a nightclub in Moscow.

Fine creates shades, pendant lights, and acrylic lamp bases in a storefront next to the Mission District’s 500 Club, whose bar, he says, is “decked out with my lamps in their glory.”

He makes shades of fiberglass and resin parchment, just as they were made in the 1950s. But his lamps meet current green energy codes.

Fine, an industrial designer, got involved with vintage shades in 1996 after a girlfriend asked, “Can you make them?”

”I bet I can figure it out,” Fine decided. “They looked cool, and no one else was doing it.”

Discover Meteor Lights at 3505 - 17th Street #A, San Francisco.